A few days ago, we noticed Brooklyn Magazine published a list of the 20 People Defining Brooklyn Music in 2015 with the purpose of identifying “people working every day, largely behind the scenes, to provide the infrastructure necessary for more of those watershed moments to take place.”
The list included many people we admire and whose work we definitely applaud, but we came across the very disappointing fact that several members of the thriving Latin music community were missing.
On that note, we decided to do a little addendum to this list and celebrate a few of the artists, collectives and industry people that keep us pondering the next evolution of alt-Latino culture, rediscovering our borough, and reminding us why you don’t sleep til Brooklyn.
Important note: all of the people listed proudly represent Latinidad every day, but the bottom line is… their contributions to the music community go beyond the Latin environment. We’re here to celebrate people honoring their roots, but also furthering the conversation, warping identity, and presenting new, electric iterations in music.
Oscar Nñ and Adam R. of Papi Juice & Ivette of Azucar
As featured in last year’s profile piece, Azucar Papi: Creating a Safe Space to Wine Yuh Waist, the Papi Juice and Azucar crews continue to weave together powerful iterations of QTPOC fierceness. With Papi Juice’s Oscar Nñ and Adam R. recently taking the party to new levels with a proper venue and a full-blown dancefloor at the Paper Box for their Mami Juice-themed party, or Azucar throwing a Selena party dedicated to the late reina, the seemingly limitless expansiveness of the concepts is a testament to the force of intentionally creating a safe nightlife space for self-defined identities and open-format musical selections. Or, as Precolumbian best put it in the interview last year, “an amazing celebration of fabulous brown bodies.”
Gabo Rodríguez, promoter and founder of Supercrush Studios
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Gabo came to NY at the age of 23. He founded the production house Supercrush Studios in 2011, and has single-handedly focused on presenting new and refreshing musical acts in venues across the city. From showcases at CMJ / Northside Fest and year-round events to the annual Solo Dame Indie Pop concert during LAMC, Gabo keeps crushing it (pun intended). Supercrush shows blend Latin and anglo acts with a tight curation, focusing on the genre more than on nationality. He is passionate about music, building community and pushing the alternative Brooklyn scene every day.
DJ Shomi Noise, Resident DJ of Riot Chica
Monthly party Riot Chica, organized by resident DJ Shomi Noise at Williamsburg establishment Don Pedro, highlights “all sorts of music made by ladies and queers.” Each month takes on a different facet of this necessary concept, with this month’s Poison in a Pretty Pill shining light on “all the Anarcho femmes out there,” or last month’s PELO SUELTO party paying homage to Latinx rebels with cumbia punk innovators Malportado Kids headlining the bill. Shomi has been a longtime voice in Brooklyn’s DIY/Latinx-focused queer community, and we’re here for keeping up with each new direction she takes.
Sokio, founder of Ponk Records
El mero mero at Ponk Records, Sokio begun his career as a musician and performing artist. He founded the label and licensing company in 2009 while he was still in Santiago, lived briefly in Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and Paris, and then moved to our beautiful borough, where he embodies an all-positive pan-Latin vibe. Sokio recently worked as a music supervisor for the thriller Knock Knock (starring the one and only Keanu Reeves), represents some Remezcla favorites such as Miss Garrison, and recently released the Talking Heads tribute compilation Sin Mucho Sentido. Ponk Records keeps holding down the fort and showing independent labels are alive and well.
Chris Video, Talent Buyer of Bossa Nova Civic Club
Several years in and still Bushwick’s tropi-rave destination, Bossa Nova Civic Club has recently undergone a facelift renovation and the party seems to see no end in sight. With open-minded house, techno, and dancefloor-everything booking, the club has also been home to the borough’s first-ever Latin Electronic Alternative Dance Festival spearheaded by Chris Video, proving that their inclusive booking policy is willing to take risks and expand on the dominant club culture. Head here any day of the week for some rather dangerous Club-Mate concoctions, and dance with other gente putting in work to pump up the underground.
Dutty Artz, NYC’s own “crew of multi-disciplinary producers, who are changing their corners of the world through various forms of digital expression,” continue to thrive after the global bass home. Home to Brooklyn-based artists Geko Jones of Que Bajo?!, Caracas-raised emcee/producer MPEACH, DJ/producer Riobamba, and Los Angeles’ own Rafi El, the crew is not limited to the Latinx realm, with artists Chief Boima, Ushka, Ripley, Selekta K7, and Atropolis also on the roster. Now with more than seven years in existence, the label and collective continues to expand with new members joining the crew, a recent showcase at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory, and some secret-but-soon-to-be-revealed projects in their home borough this summer.
Olivier Conan, owner of Barbès
One of our favorite honorary latinos, Olivier is probably the most Peruvian Frenchman we know. He has nurtured Barbès, one of the liveliest and most diverse music venues in south Slope, and presented Norteña, Banda, Balkan, Bhangra, Cumbia, Indie Rock, Jazz, Funk, Western African… the list goes on. He is also the frontman of Peruvian band Chicha Libre. Chicha, a subgenre of cumbia blended with psychedelic and Andean music, has received a lot of international attention in the last few years and Olivier’s efforts to carry forward this genre can’t be overlooked.
M.A.K.U. Soundsystem play a musical blend of rock, funk and traditional Colombian roots music – in their own words, they are party for the people! Their lyrics are socially conscious and, staying true to themselves, they’ve built a warm community around their music. You will find them sharing their music at Terraza in Queens, or perhaps spreading positive vibes at the Holi Festival of Colors in Brooklyn, other times you’ll see them at workshops preserving the art of gaita playing or spearheading the march for immigration reform. The M.A.K.U. crew are proudly representing fusion music sending a community-focused message worldwide.
Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra
The Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra have made it clear that Salsa music isn’t exclusively for Latinos. They have arranged iconic indie songs and transformed them into salsa classics. We’ve seen them throw monthly parties across the cities making Salsa purists and newbies twist to the beat of Arcade Fire, Santigold, The Mars Volta, Animal Collective, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem to name a few.
Paul Dryden, Artist Advocate
Another honorary latino on this list is Paul Dryden, who started his career at an early age as an intern at Universal Music Argentina. Later on, he became head of Publicity and Media Relations at Nacional Records in Los Angeles, working with icons like Manu Chao, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Aterciopelados, Los Amigos Invisibles, Bomba Estereo, Nortec Collective, Mexican Institute of Sound, Ana Tijoux, the LAMC and more. After relocating to Brooklyn, he has continued to work as a huge advocate of alternative Latin music, connecting and helping Latin artists behind the scenes.
ShaveUrLegz and No Shame
Two different Brooklyn-based entities sharing the common goals of developing and placing Dominican Republic’s alternative scene on everyone’s radar. Founded by daring young music entrepreneurs, who travel back and forth between US and DR exporting/importing what any music lover craves.